This year, TED celebrates 30 years of ideas worth spreading, and we were very excited to be a part of ‘The Next Chapter’ in Vancouver. As expected, TED didn’t disappoint, delivering a 5 day schedule packed with inspirational, engaging and thought-provoking content. In case you haven’t had a chance to watch any of it yet we’ve summarised some key takeaways below, the full videos (as they are released) can all be found on TED.com.
Download our output of the TED talks below:
- 1. We’re going bionic.
As technology advances and it gets smaller, faster and better, people are working on combining biology with technology – with extraordinary outcomes. One of these people is Hugh Herr, who describes a future where humans will no longer be limited by their infrastructure as bionic limbs and exoskeletons enable us to transcend disability and push our limits. While Herr develops the physical nature of the human body, Ray Kurzweil looks ahead to the day when, using nanobots we will be able to access the cloud straight from our brain. Gone will be the days of running out of things to say, as Kurzweil explains; our thinking will become a hybrid of biological and non-biological thinking. Whilst both exciting and frightening, one thing is for sure: technology is set to revolutionise the way we live, think, and interact.
- 2. Our identity has never been more important.
In this age of access and connectivity, it’s easy to forget that there are better ways to use the Internet than you-tubing cats stuck in boxes. Sugata Mitra (winner of the 2013 TED prize) demonstrates the real power of the Internet through ‘The School in the Cloud”, which provides education to children in remote areas via Skype screens. Take a look and get involved at www.theschoolinthecloud.org. Similarly, Shai Reshef’s University of the People makes free higher education accessible to anyone with access to the Internet and a desire to learn. Built on the basis that education is a basic right and not a privilege, Reshef is helping students in 143 countries take control of their future.
The impact of education for people in rural areas, in particular girls, is profound, as Ziaudden Yousafzai (aka Malala’s father) spoke of the identity and empowerment it provides them. By teaching boys to unlearn their misguided attitudes towards women, Yousafzai hopes to break the cycle and change the future. Geena Rocero also emphasised the need for education to spread acceptance and understanding in relation to gender assignment and the labels humans are assigned from birth.
- 3. It’s never been more important to get together.
The internet and social media have both had a huge impact on the ways in which people connect and socialise virtually but Amanda Burden recognises the need to still provide public spaces that bring people in cities physically together. As a city planner Burden had the opportunity to help shape the city and provide green, outdoor spaces that helped build a sense of community and togetherness and help people interact and engage both with each other and their surroundings. Similarly, Bran Ferren recognises the need for people to experience and appreciate the natural and design wonders of our world and civilization, away from technology. He further explains that in our increasingly tech-dependent world, we need to understand that art and design are what makes humanity special and a way of communicating ideas and bridging knowledge.
- 5. We’re getting to know the unknown unknowns, but many will probably remain unknown.
Despite all the advances in technology, there is much we still don’t know. As Adam Allans explains, while we know how the universe began and how it might end, we don’t know (and probably never will) what happens in black holes. However, Andrew Connelly introduced us to the LSST (the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope), a piece of extraordinary technology that is so powerful that nobody knows what they’re going to discover with it. One image from it is the equivalent of 300 images from the hubble telescope, and promises to produce new and unknown answers to our evolution and the universe.
From the very, very big, to the miniscule, Rob Knight educated us on the importance of microbes and their responsibility for whether mosquitoes think we’re tasty, or how pills will affect our heart. However, as we have around 100 trillion microbial cells, there is still a long way to go before we fully understand the role they play.
And if you’ve ever wandered where your internal dialogue came from and why it won’t stop giving you a hard time, then unfortunately we still don’t have the answer. David Chalmer explains that while it’s so directly experienced by all of us, it is one of the universes biggest phenomenons. As a philosopher he questions why we have it, whether it’s universal and whether we should eat something that has it… There are no answers yet, but maybe one day!
- 6. Managing ourselves and our systems is a work in progress… but is it progress?
Although the invention of the Internet changed the world forever, and signalled a new era of learning, sharing and connecting, Edward Snowden (via the ‘Snow-bot’) highlighted the urgent need for conversations and debates on privacy, security and transparency within a networked and data filled world. He argued that while the NSA does great things, there needs to be more transparency in relation to the secrecy surrounding the mass surveillance they carry out. As an inter-connected world, he emphasises the importance of abiding by certain standards to avoid undermining international relationships and invading peoples’ right to privacy. In response, Richard Ledgett, the NSA’s Deputy Director accepted that whilst important to have national and international conversations on security and privacy, Snowden’s approach puts people at risk. He argues that whilst people do have a right to privacy, there are considerable risks from terrorist and cyber attacks and that surveillance is designed to protect the people. Ledgett urged people to learn the facts and look at the data before forming conclusions. Whether or not you believe Snowden’s actions were right, there is little doubt that they have brought about one of the most valuable and significant conversations on the issues of privacy and security within a technological world. After all, who’s watching who?
We´ll be back with more scribing and lessons learned soon…